Connie Walker / Image via VIU

Connie Walker is the speaker for VIU’s seventh annual Indigenous Speakers Series, in partnership with CBC Radio. She will present her talk “Exposing the Truth: Journalism’s Role in Reconciliation” on Monday, November 22 at 6:30 pm in Malaspina Theatre on VIU’s Nanaimo campus.

Over the past decade, Walker’s work has focused on Indigenous voices and the truth about the residential schools’ impacts, a VIU News story said. She hosts the podcast Stolen: The Search for Jermain and previously hosted CBC News’ podcast Missing & Murdered. Both podcasts deal with missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Walker is from the Okanese First Nation in Saskatchewan. She became interested in journalism in high school after the murder of Pamela George in Regina in 1995. The media coverage often referred to the athletic achievements of the middle-class white men who’d killed her, while headlines focused on George’s occasional sex work instead of her being a mother, daughter or sister.

“It made me curious about who the people were telling these stories,” Walker said. “I was always interested in reporting on issues from our community, but there wasn’t a lot of interest in hearing our stories when I first became a journalist.”

Her latest work is on residential schools. The newest season of Stolen follows her father’s experiences and was inspired by the discovery of the remains at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School site in June 2021. She is also investigating the former St. Michael’s residential school in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan.

“Even though I’d been a journalist for 20 years and spent a lot of time focused exclusively on reporting on Indigenous issues and on the impact of residential schools, the truth was that I didn’t really understand how residential schools have impacted my life and the lives of my family members,” Walker said. “Now I’m reporting on people I love and care about and every revelation is such a difficult thing to hear.”

She believes a first important step in healing is to expose the truth about what really happened.

“We’ve all been touched by this legacy, our lives have been shaped and impacted by our parents’ experiences in the schools but we haven’t really learned or understood the truth about what they went through. We need to, as journalists, help amplify people’s voices and use the power that we have to pass the microphone so that people can share their own stories.”

The lecture will be followed by a Q-&-A session moderated by CBC Radio’s Ideas host Nahlah Ayed. The event will be recorded for national broadcast, and people can tune in through Zoom. Registration is free; to get tickets, visit Eventbrite. Proof of vaccination is required.

Editor

Sophia Wasylinko is a third-year Creative Writing and Journalism student. She was the Entertainment Reporter for CHLY 101.7FM in winter 2020. Her favorite things in life are cats, the color purple, coffee, and books (mysteries or books about ghosts, murder, and crime in general). Sophia is excited to be back in Nanaimo and hopes to explore more of Vancouver Island this year.

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